12/23/12

peppermint-chocolate caramels

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I bet everyone is out shopping?
Baking?
Wrapping?
Anyone on a plane to the caribbean?
Can I join you?
As much as I love the holiday spirit, the energy, etc... this time of year, to be honest I'd rather celebrate it in a warm, sunny, tropical location.
Here on cape cod we haven't had sun in over a week now and it's truly draining on the spirits.
Nothing but rain and short, dark days.
But the good news, the winter solstice just happened which means starting after December 21 the days slowly (but surely) get longer.
Definitely something to look forward to.
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Are there a few of you that are still afraid to venture into the process of caramel making?
I hope not.
They aren't that hard really. Once you do a first run, successful or not, you will see where you messed up (if you do).
It's really all about having a good candy thermometer and never leaving the pot. Stir, stir, stir.
As Emeril once said about making candies and caramels:  'you just need to set up camp at the pot'.
True.
I learned A LOT from this book when I first ventured into working with sugar the right way:


It's all about cooking caramel at the right temperature, getting the caramels to the right temperature, constantly stirring the caramel, and learning the right temperature to take caramels off the heat.  If you get a good candy thermometer (I use this one, since it clips on to the pot) it will tell you what temperature for hard caramels, soft caramels.

For these soft caramels you want the caramel to reach 248 degrees F.
Once it reaches that temp, all you have to do is take off the heat and add in whatever flavoring you want to add, mix, and them pour into prepared pan.
Once the mixture cools, then you just slice.
Fairly easy.
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peppermint-chocolate caramels

4 TB unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the baking dish
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, in chopped chunks or chips
1-cup whole milk
3/4 cup molasses
1cup sugar
1 ts peppermint extract (if you don’t like peppermint you can use vanilla extract)
½ cup finely chopped candy canes

Cook note: this is a very mild peppermint flavor. I do not like a lot of peppermint flavor. There is more of a molasses flavor and a gentle peppermint in the background.
Generously butter an 8x9 or 9 inch oval or square baking dish.
Clip a candy thermometer to the side of a medium, heavy saucepan.
Combine the butter, chocolate, milk, molasses and sugar in the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees on the thermometer.  This will take about 15 or more minutes—be patient.  Do not be tempted to turn up the heat to get temperature higher—you might burn the sugar. 
Continuously scraping the bottom of the pan with a silicon spatula (or a wooden spoon) so the mixture doesn’t stick and burn. Once you reach the temp of 248 degrees, take off the heat, and stir in the extract.  It will bubble up.  Give it a good stir then pour into prepared pan. Then working fast, sprinkle in the candy cane bits, and stir again till combined. Let this sit at room temperature at least an hour or longer before slicing. 
As soon as the caramel is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a cutting board and use a buttered chef’s knife (or scissors) to cut the caramel into ¾-inch-wide strips, and then crosswise into ¾-inch pieces.
When the caramels are completely cool, wrap them individually in wax paper, or layer in parchment paper in an airtight container.
Should make about 60 pieces, all depending on how you slice them. 

8 comments:

  1. Ooooh, these caramels look so delicious! I love peppermint and chocolate together, and what a great idea to combine them in a caramel! :)

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  2. I'll join you on the imaginary flight to the Caribbean! :D
    Love this caramel recipe!! No matter how often I dive into the world of caramel making, it still rattles my nerves a bit (and caramel can sense fear!). :P

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  3. I'd like to off to a Caribbean location right about now...but only if you bring these caramels!

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  4. I'm SO hit or miss with caramel. Probably because I definitely need a better thermometer. I love that you've infused chocolate into them though!

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  5. I love homemade caramels. Your jazzed up version sounds like such a treat. I don't just want to spend the holidays somewhere warm, I want to spend the whole winter somewhere warm. Not a fan of cold and snow.

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  6. I'm the oddball. We've spent a lot of Christmas and New Year's holidays up in the mountains outside of Lillehammer, Norway. Now we prefer to wait until the end of February or early March as there's longer daylight. I do fudge, nut brittle, and caramels. I just got some vegetable glycerine as I want to try making taffy. Where do you get your wrapping papers? I understand LorAnn Oils sells it, but I haven't seen any.

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  7. these look amazing, dawn! i'm so glad i got over my irrational fear of candy-making. :)

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  8. these look delicious!! i made smitten kitchen's apple cider caramels this year, they were absolutely fantastic. these might be next :)

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I love your comments, they make my day!

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